Eden Elsewhere


I am running naked down the hall. I am so small, the door knob to the linen closet before me is above my head. I am headed to it, the towels are there, my child feet leave footprints on the wooden floor, droplets fall from my body and leave a trail of splatters, surrounding the mark of toes and heel of a child, naked, dripping, gleeful, emerging from the tub. Now to fetch the forgotten towel, forgotten yet again! Did I forget it in order to take once again this euphoric walk of no shame? My hairless, porcelain child body, my head of wet, wavy, dark brown hair, my eyes on the prize, the linen closet!

I reach it, grasp the knob with my hand, leave my mark upon the cheap metal and open.. the shelves now before me! As I bend my fingers, my fingertips claw on avocado green fluff, I hear a voice, stern, shouting: “Where are your clothes!”

I stop in my giddy tracks, aware now of my nakedness, before the authorities. No longer alone in the garden, but here now in the hallway of 606 Hillmont St. I’ve been found,found out, scolded for this walk of shame, and I am afraid. My joy, stifled. I learn a lesson. I learn my lesson as I stand naked and afraid, stunned. I grasp the avocado green towel and pull. A pile of linens follows, an avalanche of tawny yellow, white, ragged fabric falls to the floor and covers my still damp toes. “Now look what you’ve done!” My mother clenches her jaw, grits her teeth, purses her lips and in a huff shoos me with one hand away and begins to pick up the towels one by one with the other hand, shaking her head, stiff, stern, morose.

This is not Eden. There is no garden. I am naked and ashamed. I pull the towel around my torso and turn to the right and quiet, silent, take my little feet into my room and shut the door and weep.

I’ve learned my lesson. Do not dance naked. Do not – I sigh – skip dripping. Do not prance wiggling. Do not grin giggling. Do not head happy toward the door that holds fluffy comfort. Do not. Do not. Instead dry yourself solemn, alone in your room. Put on your panties in silence. Slip on your denim shorts and zip and snap. Pull your striped shirt over your still damp head. Pick up your notebook of 3 hole punch lined paper and wedge your pencil between your thumb and ring finger and write stories of Eden elsewhere.

Rev. Dr. Brenda Walker is writing #MartineMemoir, the story of her journey to more fully understand the life of her oldest sibling who died at age 29 in San Francisco, under mysterious circumstances. "Compassion is a Matter of Life or Death" is the theme of her memoir. Her intention is to raise awareness and acceptance of transgender lives, to provide support for their families and to contribute to religious literature that is trans-affirming.

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